General Question

richardhenry's avatar

If your U.S. birth certificate is stolen, is your identity in danger? If so, to what degree?

Asked by richardhenry (12638points) June 20th, 2010

How valuable is the information on your birth certificate?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

15 Answers

hug_of_war's avatar

Isn’t that stuff public record?

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
augustlan's avatar

While the information on it is public record, the actual certificate (with an official seal) might be able to be used for nefarious purposes. For example, in my state, you can use it (along with a couple of utility bills) to get a driver’s license. Once the thief has a photo ID (your name, their picture)... just about anything is possible.

MissA's avatar

Depending upon your state, one might consider regular checks on their credit files, etc. At least your SS# isn’t on your birth certificate. However, the birth certificate just might be used to create another one. If it happened to me, I would be concerned.

marinelife's avatar

It is not good that it be stolen. As @augie says, you can use it to obtain photo ID, and then the sky’s the limit.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Like the others have said, it’s not really the information that’s dangerous, it’s the physical piece of paper. I would call the social security administration to let them know so that they can look out for someone trying to get a duplicate social security card in your name and also call who ever issues driver’s licenses and ID cards in your area to see what they can do as well.

Npt's avatar

The best thing you can do is put a security freeze on your credit information. A security freeze is better than credit monitoring and doesn’ t cost you anything until you open it. To freeze your credit informatin, you have to call the three credit monitoring companies. They will lock your info and issue you a pin number to open it when you need to open it. This does not affect any existing credit accounts that you might have. It only stops new lines of credit from being opened in your name. There is a small fee that varies from State to State, but you only pay it when you remove the freeze to open a new account. That does not happen often since most of us already have the credit cards that we need. Most of us would only open our credit when we are planning to buy a new car or new house and then it takes only a few minutes to open. Don’t confuse it with a fraud alert or a monitoring service. It is a result of a State law that was expanded nationwide. It is not advertised because the credit reporting agencies would rather sell you a monitoring service which they charge you every month. There is only a charge when you open your credit info up. Research this youself, you’ll be glad you did!

blueberry_kid's avatar

I agree with @MissA , it does depend on where you live, but also, how is the crime rate where you are? Do you know who stole it?

ETpro's avatar

@UScitizen Are you kidding, or are you seriously a Birther?

Most states keep your original birth certificate safely in the state hall of records, and will only issue a certified copy with the state seal affixed to it. But still, if this is stolen, it and a few other easily obtained pieces of bogus ID could be used to get a driver’s license and from there do some serious harm. So it’s one of those documents you should keep in a safe place.

jrpowell's avatar

They are easy to get. I got a copy from vital records when I was fifteen. I just paid the ten bucks and showed the my social security card. Two minutes later they gave me one. I lost that one and got another copy when I was 19 and needed a passport. I’m not even sure where mine is now.

The valuable thing seems to be the social security card. And those are easily replaced too. I keep mine in my wallet.

robmandu's avatar

Like others have explained already, your birth certificate is one of the few documents that is accepted as official identification which does not include a photo.

Normally, a single non-photo id alone is not sufficient, for obvious reasons. As said above, you typically need to combine two or more non-photo identification documents for acceptance, like your social security card, utility bills, medicare card, gun permit, etc. It varies from state to state.

Why do we keep saying “state to state”? Because the assumption is that you (or the bad guy who stole your birth certificate) is attempting to get some form of government issued photo id… like a drivers license, which are issued at the state level. In Texas, for example, the non-photo identification requirements to get a drivers license are listed here.

Once you have a drivers license, then getting a U.S. Passport is a piece of cake, because you only need that with the birth certificate and you’re good to go. A passport implies a lot of legitimacy.

But in order to really conduct commerce (i.e. steal an identity to gain access to that person’s credit), you must have their social security number. But, if you’ve got a drivers license and birth certificate, it’s easy to get a new social security card. Here’s how.

The problem with the multiple forms of non-photo id approach in use today is that it’s basically a variant of security through obfuscation. That is, that it’s difficult to gather the various pieces need to successfully assume someone else’s identity. As we all know, it’s actually not all that hard.

So… are you (or your identity) in danger with your birth certificate out in the wild? I would say maybe, but probably not. Like @jp mentioned, it’s easy to get a copy of a birth certificate already. To me, it would depend on why it was stolen. Was it nabbed with a bunch of other valuable stuff, like jewels from a safe or something where you think they were really trying to get the other goods? Or do you think someone really wants to hijack your identity? Unfortunately, when it comes to criminal behavior with one’s own goods, it’s likely best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

To be safe, you might consider getting the security freeze on your credit, like @Npt suggests. Again, the process varies from state to state. Try starting here.

JLeslie's avatar

I have lifelock and it seems to be worth the money. I opened a creidt card at a retailer a couple of months ago, and within minutes I had a message on my cell phone lettting me know someone used my identity to open a credit card. If you have any concerns I would buy the service.

robmandu's avatar

How Lifelock Works – and how you can protect yourself from identity theft like Lifelock yourself, for free

Npt's avatar

The advantage that the security freeze has over lifelock is that it is free. With lifelock, you are notified after an account is opened and if the bad guy got instant credityou would have been notified after he already purchased merchandise. With the security freeze, the bad guy would have been turned down when he applied for the account in your name.

JLeslie's avatar

@Npt Very interesting. I was not aware. My state actualy charges a small fee to freeze. Here is a website for the collective.

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